How To Make A Barre Playlist Your Students Will Love

Andrea Isabelle Lucas, Barre & Soul® founder

How To Make A Barre Playlist Your Students Will Love

We all want to make great playlists for our barre classes, right? The sort of class playlist where the songs flow seamlessly into each other, the tempo perfectly matches the exercises, and students get excited to hear them? Of course!

When we’re teaching barre certification classes - either online or in-person - we hear the “What about my playlist?!!” question A LOT.

Here are our best tips for making a barre class playlist people will love

1. Find the beat

Begin working on finding the beat in the music you listen to. Find the beginning and ending of each eight count.
Don't just identify it but speak/count out loud (even if it's just by yourself in the car!). Unless you're a musician or a dance teacher, chances are you need to create brand new neural pathways in your brain for this new skill. Counting the 8 count out loud while driving around running errands will speed this process up.

Don't worry - it will be bumpy at first but it will get easier and easier the more you DO it

2. Once you’ve found the beat, practice doing barre pushups to the beat

Set yourself up at your kitchen counter and practice doing barre-style pushups in time to the beat of different songs.

In case you need a reminder, here’s how to set yourself to do a barre push-up:

  • Face the counter
  • Take hands a little wider than shoulder width
  • Walk feet back so you are on a diagonal
  • Stand on the balls of your feet

Experiment with doing full range of motion (bend your elbows, taking chest to the barre, straightening elbows to press up) and pulsing. Experiment with different tempo variations.

Here are a few songs to get you started:

Work through those songs and see how you feel doing different movements to different songs. Do you feel motivated? Energized? Relaxed?

Try doing the movements to the beat of the song. You might find that it feels weirdly slow or too fast to be sustainable. You won’t know until you try it!

3. Use a BPM app or a website to learn the beats per minute of your favorite songs

A good playlist is the soundtrack to a great class - it hypes up your students through challenging exercises and keeps them engaged. We don’t want a playlist that’s exclusively slow songs, and we don’t want one that’s only high speed bangers from the moment we turn it on!

Use a BPM app the same way you’d use Shazam - turn on songs you already love and use the app to determine the beats per minute. That will help you decide where in the playlist you want to place the song - during the high intensity section where people will need motivation to push through or during the slower cool down.

4. Think about your barre playlist in terms of the four sections of your class

A barre class is made up of four sections:

  • warm up
  • work
  • peak
  • cool-down

You’ll want different types and speeds of music for each section. Obviously, you probably don’t want to use a fast-paced song for your cool-down section and your students probably want something a bit more motivating than R.E.M.’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ for the peak section.

5. Take the format and length of class into consideration when planning your barre class playlist

Here at Barre & Soul, we have 45-minute express classes as well as 60-minute classes. I know a few yoga studios that offer 90-minute classes! Whatever the length, it’s important that your playlist is precisely designed to fit the length of the class you’re teaching.

It’s never a good feeling to look at the clock and realize you’ve only got five minutes of class left, but you’ve got 20 minutes left on your playlist!

6. Use songs of similar length and rhythm for glute work

We like to format our workouts to be one song per glute. Imagine how frustrated students would be if we did a five-minute, fast-paced song for their left side and a three-minute, slow-paced song for their right side?!

So make sure to check song length and BPM for any song where you’re working one side of the body per song; do your best to keep things equal. We like to use to double check that our glute songs or thigh songs have even BPMs. It's not always noticeable when listening, but when actually doing the exercises, even just 5-10 BPMs off changes everything!

7. Make sure there’s no dead air between songs

Picture this: Your students have been going all out to a fast-paced Beyonce song; they’re ready to ride the endorphin wave into another song … when they hear five full seconds of silence. AWKWARD.
The easiest way to remove dead air? Use Spotify to make your playlist and make sure you enable a crossfade of a few seconds and “gapless playback.” Here’s how.

If barre is mostly an in-person practice, how does an online training translate the minutiae of teaching to real, live people? It’s a valid question! Not all online barre trainings address how to make your in-person classes top-notch, but fortunately: we do!

Gapless Playback

8. When in doubt, use an existing, expert-made playlist!

In fact, here’s a playlist from Barre & Soul’s lead trainer, Jenna Melgar!

Want to learn even more about what goes into being a great barre instructor? Check out our free masterclass “How To Make $40,000 (or more!) Working 15 Hours A Week As A Certified Barre Instructor”!